4490 - Devastating Borderlands: Transnationalism as Loss in Spielberg's The Terminal (2004)

[Se trata de una propuesta presentada conjuntamente con Gemma López, de la Universidad de Barcelona. El aplicativo no me ha permitido introducir más de un autor]

Ezra and Rowden (2006) argue that transnational cinema develops in the in-between spaces of culture, between the local and global, problematizing the notions of cultural purity or separatism. Indeed, transnationalism reflects and infects power relations in our contemporary world. It suggests that we may have to think of the world as borderless from now on, not only because national borders become progressively blurred but because subjects are constantly trepassing them and become themselves transnational. In this sense also, cosmopolitanism seems to invoke a vision of world citizenship. Vertovec and Cohen (2002) argue that cosmopolitanism offers the possibility of handling cultural and political multiplicities, being characterized by its capacity to transcend the nation-state model; to mediate between the universal and the specific, the global and the local; to be culturally anti-essentialist as well as to give voice to different and plural identities, loyalties or even interests.

In The Terminal, Spielberg presents a character, Viktor Navorski, who finds himself trapped at JFK International Airport as he is not allowed to enter the US while a revolution starts in his home nation, which leaves him nationless. Spielberg seems to have been inspired by the true story of the 18-year-stay of Mehran Karimi Nasseri in the Charles de Gaulle International Airport, Terminal I (Paris, France) from 1988 to 2006. The story of Navorski is a story where the experience of the borderland becomes devastating for the subject as it totally deprives him of identity, thus becoming an experience of loss. This paper will explore the extent to which the film uses the “non-place” (Ezra and Rowden 2006) of the airport to problematize in-between spaces as arenas where national and/or cultural identity may disintegrate while opening spaces for alternative constructions of subjectivity.

Keywords: Borderland, transnationalism, cosmopolitanism, film studies, identity.

Author: Moya, Ana (University of Barcelona, Spain / Spanien)


University of Vienna | Dr.-Karl-Lueger-Ring 1 | 1010 Vienna | T +43 1 4277 17575